We determined (a) the haemodynamic responses to intubating laryngeal mask (ILM) airway insertion/intubation and removal in anaesthetized patients, and (b) whether the timing of ILM removal influences these responses. One-hundred and twenty patients without cardiovascular disease were studied. ILM airway insertion/intubation was 5 min after induction with propofol 2mg kg−1 and maintenance of anaesthesia with sevoflurane 2% in oxygen 33% and nitrous oxide. Patients were randomly assigned for removal of the intubating laryngeal mask airway at 1, 3 and 5 min after successful intubation. Systolic and diastolic arterial pressures and heart rate were recorded preinduction (baseline), before ILM airway insertion/intubation, at 1-min intervals after insertion/intubation, and at 1-min intervals for 5 min after ILM removal. ILM insertion was successful at the Arst attempt in all patients, but 46 patients required more than one intubation attempt. Compared with baseline values, there were no increases in systolic or diastolic arterial pressure, but there was an increase in heart rate 1 min after ILM insertion/intubation (9%, P < 0.001) and 1 min after ILM removal (8%, P < 0.01). There was a significant increase in systolic and diastolic pressures and heart rate 1 min after ILM insertion/intubation (30%, 31% and 15%; all: P < 0.002) compared with before ILM insertion/intubation values and 1 min after ILM removal (9%, 8% and 7%; all P < 0.05) compared with 1 min after ILM insertion/intubation values. Removal of the ILM 1 min after successful intubation resulted in higher arterial pressure compared with removal at 3 min (systolic arterial pressure 10% higher for 1 min, P=0.01) and 5 min (systolic arterial pressure 10–23% higher for 3 min, P < 0.01; diastolic arterial pressure 10–20% higher for 4 min, P > 0.02), but there were no differences in heart rate between groups. Systolic and diastolic arterial pressures were greater if more than one intubation attempt was required. Early removal or multiple intubation attempts did not exceed baseline haemodynamic values. We conclude that ILM insertion/intubation and removal in anaesthetized patients produces little or no haemodynamic response, even if multiple intubation attempts are required. The timing of removal exerts a small, but clinically unimportant influence on these responses.